Tape: Smarter than the average storage device

By: In: Data Management On: Sep 23, 2015

Ask an IT Manager about backup tapes today and they might mention the warehouse scene ending from Raiders of the Lost Ark – an ancient relic among a sea of other technology relics in a cloud–driven world.

Unfortunately, labels like this diminish the value of tape as a storage medium, but also the value of the data stored on the tape. Just because a “thing” as it relates to the “Internet of Things (IoT)” is on a backup tape doesn’t mean its business value is any less than that of a “thing” stored on spinning disk or in the cloud. Tape is still the most reliable and cost effective way to store and retrieve large amounts of data on the market today.

Advances in tape technology in recent years show that tape can still help companies manage data long-term. Smart tape still relies on the same principles that made backup tape relevant decades ago, such as capacity, compatibility, portability and longevity, but it also enables companies to put more data on a single tape and access the data more easily.

Tech giants like Sony and IBM are working on tape enhancements that would expand tape capacity to a whopping 200 TB range.  A tape of that size could allow many companies to store all their data on a single backup tape, reducing inventory management headaches.

The Linear Tape File System (LTFS) trend enables companies to mount and read tape like any other drive on the network, virtually eliminating the argument that it’s too hard to manage tape in a disk or cloud based world. What could be easier than point and click on a file system?

Dave Woiti, who directs the Information Storage Industry Consortium, notes that the challenges of making hard disks bigger, faster, and cheaper when compared with tape technology improvements might even extend tapes’ lifespan beyond that of spinning disk. It’s likely hard disk will remain a prominent storage medium to run private and public clouds, but it’s also likely that tape will be used as that backend that archives the data for several years.

In today’s cloud storage obsessed world, it’s refreshing to hear that tape lives, but it’s not surprising to Iron Mountain. Iron Mountain has been sticking tapes on shelves for decades and will continue to do so as tape technologies change. We can also help restore data from any type of backup system used commercially over the last 30 years.

Iron Mountain understands that regardless of the storage medium used, critical business issues remain the same. Simply put, what data needs to be stored, how long does it need to be kept, and can data easily be found and restored when needed?

Iron Mountain’s Restoration Assurance Program can help solve all these problems. We’ll archive your tapes and tape catalogs and we’ll be ready to restore your data whenever you need it. Iron Mountain will help you be smart about your backup strategy. We’re proud to help companies manage their data – from ancient relics to data created in the cloud just moments ago. Contact us today for a free quote.

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About the author

Tara Holt

Tara is a solutions marketing manager responsible for creating and managing content for Iron Mountain’s Banking and the Financial Services solutions as well as Iron Mountain’s Customer Facing Technology applications. She has over 18 years of experience as a technical writer, business/systems analyst, project manager, and product manager and has worked for Iron Mountain since 2001. Tara holds a BA in English and Journalism from the University of Connecticut and will receive her MS in Professional and Organizational Communications from Regis College in 2016. In 2010, she received her Product Management Certification (PMC) from Pragmatic Marketing.